HARRISONBURG, VA— The James Madison University football team ended a hard-fought game with 24 unanswered points in the second half to lead the Dukes to a 41-24 victory over the University of New Hampshire at Bridgeforth Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
UNH senior quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) had a solid game, throwing for two TDs and running for a 26-yarder. His first TD pass of the contest gave Santos his 100th career TD breaking the all-time CAA mark. He also became the all-time CAA leader in completions, surpassing the total of 868 by Villanova’s Chris Boden..
The Wildcats 0-1, 0-1 CAA drew first blood following a big fumble recovery by sophomore defensive lineman T.J. Taylor (Erie Pa.). UNH then scored on a 19 yd TD pass by senior quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) to junior wide receive Mike Boyle (Plymouth, N.H.). The play capped off a 10 play 55 yd drive that lasted 4:21.
The Dukes, 1-1, 1-0 CAA, answered quickly at 4:20 of the first quarter with a 36 yd field goal by Dave Stannard, the first of his career, making the score 7-3 in favor of UNH.
Senior punt returner Jeff Pammer returned a punt 48 yds to give UNH the ball on the JMU 7 yd line. UNH drove to the JMU 1 yd line and was forced to kick an 18 yd field goal by sophomore Tom Manning (Rome, N.Y). to give the Wildcats a 10-3 advantage at 11;19 of the second stanza.
JMU tied the game with 6:00 remaining in the second quarter on a 5 yd run by Antoinne Bolton.
Santos then engineered an exciting 9 play 71 yd drive capped off with a 3 yd TD pass by Santos to senior wide receiver Keith LeVan (Waltham, Mass. ) to give the Wildcats a 17-10 advantage with just 1:16 to play before the half. JMU had a final shot with 20 seconds to go and scored from the 9 yd line on a run by quarterback Rodney Landers to tie the score, 17-17. heading into the intermission.
Santos regained the lead for UNH in the opening drive of the second half with a gutsy 26 yard run that included broken tackles and cutting across field for the score giving the Wildcats the 24-17 lead with 12:54 to play in the third quarter.
JMU tied the game 24-24 at 6:25 of the third quarter on a 6 yd TD run by Landers as the home team took advantage of a Santos intercepted throw.
JMU took a 31-24 lead with 1:29 to play in the third quarter on an 11 yard TD pass from Landers to Eugene Holloman.
The Dukes put together another long drive and Stennard kicked his second field goal of the day with 8:30 to play in the game and open up a 10-point 34-24 advantage for JMU.
Bolton scored his second TD of the day with 3:13 to play in the game to end the scoring.
Santos finished the day 36 of 47 in passing for 353 yds. He also ran 8 times for 37 yards. Leading the way for the receivers was sophomore Scott Sicko with 7 catches for 81 yds. Also with seven catches was LeVan with 66 yds and junior Bobby Simpson (Brockton, Mass.) for 53 yds. The top rusher for the ‘Cats was Santos.
On the defensive side of the football, three players led the squad with 12 total tackles (Pammer, Husain Karim and Terrance Klein).
The Wildcats return to action next Saturday when they travel to play FBS opponent Marshall on Sept. 15. UNH plays its first home contest on Sept. 22 vs. Dartmouth. Game time is 12 p.m. and tickets are still available online at www.unhwildcats.com.